Okeechobee Community Theatre presents ‘Showtime at First Baptist’; Friday is opening night

OKEECHOBEE Contrary to what its title suggests, “Showtime at First Baptist,” which opens Friday evening for a five-performance run, is actually the latest comedy offering from the Okeechobee Community Theatre (OCT), and does not take place at First Baptist Church.

“That title could easily be misleading,” said Ron Hayes, who is directing the play. “The Baptist church in the show by playwright Ron Osborne, is in the fictitious town of Ivy Gap, Tenn. It’s a small, rural congregation that is celebrating its 100th anniversary when the sanctuary burns to the ground. Six ladies form a committee to come up with a plan to raise church members’ spirits, and, at the same time, raise funds to help to rebuild.

Even with these very unfortunate circumstances, there are plenty of laughs and lots of heart, somewhat like in the hit play ‘Steel Magnolias,’ which we performed several years ago.”

Gospel-oriented comedies have gone over well with the OCT’s audiences, according to Mr. Hayes. “Our most popular musical in our 39-year history has been ‘Smoke on the Mountain,’ which we produced twice within eighteen months to sold-out houses both times. ‘Service at Rocky Bluff,’ a gospel music comedy, was also very well-received. ‘Showtime at First Baptist’ is not really a musical, but some gospel music is included in our performances,” he said.

The play will be performed at 8 p.m. this Friday and Saturday, March 9 and 10, and again on Friday, March 16. There will also be 2 p.m. matinées on Saturday, March 10 and 17.

The theatre is at 610 S.W. Second Ave., in Okeechobee, one block west of Golden Corral restaurant.

Reserved seat tickets are $12 each, and can be purchased at the Plaza 300 Building in the 300 block of N.W. Fifth St., second floor, suite 316. Remaining tickets will be available at the theatre box office one hour before showtimes.

The cast is a talented group of ladies who are stage veterans. They include Connie Gerard, who has previously performed in “Steel Magnolias” and the female version of “The Odd Couple” at a theatre in Illinois, and was seen in the OCT production of the comedy “Come Blow Your Horn,” last season.
Laurie Garner has appeared in 18 comedies, dramas and musicals with the OCT, among them, “Brigadoon,” “Dixie Swim Club,” and “Diary of Anne Frank.”

Louise Chandler has played roles in 15 OCT productions, in both comedies and musicals. Jacque Hayes, has been with the theatre group since 1986, and, besides acting, has directed and choreographed numerous shows. Katie McFarland is performing in her first production here, but has previously been a part of the Panhandle Players in Apalachicola. Martha Bucholtz was seen in the role of Mrs. Paroo in “The Music Man” last season.

“Showtime at First Baptist” is the final offering in the theatre’s 39th season of producing live Broadway-style comedies, dramas and musicals. The all-volunteer organization is a member of the American Association of Community Theatre and the Florida Theatre Conference.

For more information, or to volunteer, call 863-763-1307, or visit the theatre website, okeechobeecommunitytheatre.com.

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